Since the early days of the pandemic, the healthcare industry has faced seemingly insurmountable challenges to ensure access to high-quality care. While healthcare providers have performed admirably in the face of these challenges, patients are still seeing access challenges that are impacting their behaviors — which can lead to challenges in the long run.
In the 2022 BDO Patient Experience Survey, they sought to learn how patients feel about their providers and healthcare experience — from making appointments and interacting with care providers, to how patients access health insurance and who patients turn to for routine care.
From the survey of over 3,000 U.S. adults, they came across a few key takeaways:
1. Delaying routine care is the new norm
Americans face a troubling dilemma: While 92% have health insurance and 91% have a regular care provider, 58% admit to delaying routine medical care in the past 12 months.
For routine (non-emergency) care, 69% of respondents report seeing a primary care physician and 12% routinely visit primary care nurse/nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Just 9% do not have a provider for routine medical care. Our survey found that Americans use a wide variety of health insurance options with employer-sponsored insurance (32%) being the most popular, followed by Medicare (28%), Medicaid (14%) and individual private insurance (7%). While 8% report having no health insurance, even those with insurance faced significant barriers to care.
Of those who delayed seeking medical care in the past 12 months, 30% cite unaffordability due to high out-of-pocket costs and 19% say they could not afford to seek care due to a lack of insurance. In addition to the high costs of medical care, many Americans struggle with a lack of cost transparency.
2. Cost transparency is a continuing problem
Nearly a third of Americans (31%) have never tried to obtain cost estimates for medical care. When patients do not know what healthcare will cost, many avoid seeking necessary care. A critical way we can improve patient access to healthcare is to understand how patients like to obtain cost estimates.
Of patients surveyed who have sought cost estimates, most prefer to reach out to a person, with 38% preferring to contact their insurance provider and 37% opting to ask the healthcare provider’s administrative staff. On the digital side, 31% say they obtained cost estimates by looking at online patient portals and 27% look to health provider or medical facility websites.
3. Most patients experience frustration when seeking and receiving care
We know that long appointments lead times and high costs cause patients to put off care — but how do patients feel about the actual care they receive? 69% of Americans experience frustration during routine medical appointments, with having to wait for a late provider (29%), not getting enough time with the provider (22%) and having too much paperwork to fill out (21%) being the most common frustrations.
When providers make it easier for patients to receive care, their efforts are noticed. Patients say providers make care more accessible by offering telehealth appointments (32%), reaching out to proactively schedule appointments (29%), offering walk-in appointments (27%) and implementing online/self-service scheduling (23%).
Patients are facing a challenging care environment — and so are providers. Fortunately, there are ways that providers can improve access and the care experience for their patients without breaking their budgets.